Concerned about creepy-crawlies? Contact a licensed pest professional
It sounds like something straight from a sci-fi movie poster: “Brood X Is Coming: Billions of Cicadas Set to Swarm.” But while the East Coast, South, and Midwest have cause for concern, California is in the clear from this bug-eyed insect horde.
Made up of a combination of cicada species—Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula—Brood X gets its alarming-sounding name from the Roman numeral for “10.” This particular insect group, also known as the less-scary “Great Eastern Brood,” is number 10 of more than a dozen broods of periodical cicadas to emerge every 17 years or so in the United States, primarily east of the Mississippi River.
These periodical cicadas spend almost all of their lives underground in a wingless larval form, feeding on sap from tree roots. What is known is that they emerge when the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, but why they only emerge in unison every 17 years remains a major mystery. Once the periodical cicadas emerge, they molt and reach their winged form, mate, then lay their eggs in tree branches. The eggs then hatch after a few weeks, and the larvae drop to the ground and burrow to the roots, beginning the cycle again.
While periodical cicadas damage tree branches when laying their eggs and their molted husks drift across neighborhoods like unseasonable autumn leaves, they are most known for the males’ loud mating calls, which can reach a jackhammer-loud 100 decibels. Nevertheless, although they are noisy, periodical cicadas are definitely not destructive to homes or the environment.
In contrast to this periodical-cicada drama, California cicadas embrace our state’s chill, laid-back lifestyle. While California has more than 60 native cicada species, they emerge fuss-free every spring to molt and make much quieter rasping or clicking mating calls than Brood X types. But just like their Eastern cousins, California cicadas aren’t destructive creatures and do not require pest-control efforts.
However, if you see bugs in or around your home and don’t know what they are or what to do, don’t take matters into your own hands with potentially dangerous or unnecessary pesticides: Contact a licensed professional for assistance. Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Structural Pest Control Board are trained to help with questions, concerns, and safe and effective pest-control steps to take if needed. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
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